Title: Learning for the frontline: how fire-fighters integrate learnt behaviours with difficult contexts

Authors: Ann Dadich

Addresses: School of Business, Centre for Industry and Innovation Studies (CInIS) Research Group, University of Western Sydney, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith South DC, NSW 2751, Australia

Abstract: Emergency service teams hold an important role however the stress associated with their position can strain workplace relationships. Although it is not always possible to change the incidents to which teams respond, it is possible to shape the way personnel communicate with each other about these incidents. Yet little is known on how learnt behaviours are integrated with this unpredictable context. An exploratory study was conducted to determine how learnt negotiation skills were used by fire-fighters to improve workplace relationships. Following completion of an audiovisual resource, a number of participants were interviewed to determine how learnt skills were integrated with difficult workplace situations. The resource is a valuable tool to enhance communication and negotiation capacity. This was because of perceived similarity. Lessons from the resource were translated into practice because they were analogous to participant experiences, values and behaviours – individually and collectively. These findings are significant for both practical and theoretical reasons.

Keywords: knowledge translation; organisational behaviour; emergency services; fire-fighters; difficult contexts; emergency service teams; stress; workplace relationships; personnel communication; emergency incidents; learnt behaviours; integration; unpredictable contexts; negotiation skills; audiovisual resources; learnt skills; difficult situations; workplace situations; communication enhancement; negotiation capacity; perceived similarity; participant experiences; participant values; participant behaviours; individual behaviour; collective behaviour; Australia; rural fire services; learning behaviour; change contexts.

DOI: 10.1504/IJLC.2012.045859

International Journal of Learning and Change, 2012 Vol.6 No.1/2, pp.97 - 121

Published online: 13 Mar 2012 *

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